Last week we welcomed back Danish profiler Louise Bergstein (Natalie Madueño) to our screens and new, perplexing case to work on.
During those first two episodes we watched on as she travelled back to the island of Funen to spend time with an old family friend – Alice Ejbye – who informed Louise that she was dying from a brain tumour. She also implored her to look into the unsolved murder of her son, Markus.
As Lousie worked her way into the local police investigation – and struck up a partnership with local detective Karina Hørup – it was clear they were on the hunt for a serial killer, the identity of whom was revealed very early on.
Peter Vinge had struck twice more since his initial killing five years earlier, and at the end of episode two had kidnapped another man. His MO was changing and altering slightly with each new kill, which made it very difficult for Louise and Karina to pin him down.
The first episode was mainly taken up with their frantic search for William Fjeldby, the son of a wealthy construction magnate.
As frantic and as eager to find William as they were, this was a slow-burn affair. No crash-bang-wallops, no 100mph chases… everything happened slowly and chronologically. As they hit dead end after dead end, Blinded: Those Who Kill took the time to flesh out some of the characters.
Alice was behaving more and more irrationally, quitting her job in an extremely matter-of-fact way, and you got the impression that her tumour was not only beginning to affect and influence the way she was thinking, but also she became acutely aware that this was. A proud, intelligent woman, she could stand it no more.
During one meeting, her impending mortality seem to hit her and she simply got up and walked out.
This seemed to face up to her devastating condition and lift a weight from her, and she began to speak freely, drink wine and listen to her favourite classical music records loudly at home while sorting through her affairs. She also spoke a little bit too freely to Louise – asking her personal questions about her relationship with her partner David, bluntly asking her why she quite obviously didn’t want children and then opening old wounds.
One of my criticisms of series one was that not enough of Louise’s background was made available for us to truly connect with her, but here – thanks to Alice – we found out that her father was an abuser, and physically so towards her mother.
But what of Peter Vinge? We had seen his marriage crumble in the first episode, and now, in an emotional tailspin, he had begun to kill again for the first time in five years. And he was playing a dangerous game at home, too – his young son Johannes’s birthday came and went, and he indulged in some point scoring. Telling him that his mother had forgotten his birthday, Peter had actually hidden the iPhone she had sent to him in his locked garage. You know, that garage.
When Johannes found out – and ventured into the garage to find the phone – he was not pleased and ran away, staying over at Peter’s boss’s place.
His absence served two purposes – one, to stir Peter’s emotional pot once again, and two, to render Peter solo so he could get on with his killing spree. It was clever writing.
Even though things were moving along slowly – but oh-so atmospherically – things started to pick up once Louise and Karina found William’s body (thanks to some nifty, well though-out deduction).
Alice, knowing she had nothing to lose, decided to goad the killer out from the shadows. She stole some of Louise’s case photographs of the lacerated body of William Fjeldby from her room and live-streamed a video on Facebook, which soon went viral. In it, she called the killer ‘weak’ and not in control.
Of course, Peter saw this. And, of course, Peter did not like being called ‘weak’ one little bit.
Louise and Karina had lamented that they did not have one, single lead three weeks into the case. Louise had urged her to be patient because serial killers always make mistakes.
And this was the driving force of BTWK, the reason we’re watching: the chase, and the waiting – like Karina – for Peter to make a mistake.
Thanks to Alice he may well have made one.
Alice had also bought a gun. Whether she knew her video would lead to a direct confrontation or not is moot, but a direct confrontation most definitely did happen. In a very dramatic scene, Peter sneaked into her house and showed how ‘weak’ he was – he woke Alice up by playing a video featuring her son Markus’s last moments on her television, and then confronted Alice in her bedroom.
Despite pointing a gun at him and finally seeing the face of her son’s killer, the last scenes of the episode saw Alice on the floor, dead, with her throat slit.
I have to say this was all rather good, and really delved deep into a number of characters’ unifying psychologies. All of the key players had control issues, or at least the theme of control was studied.
Alice wanted to claw back some control over her ever-worsening condition, and to do something to help – however rule-breaking – the investigation before she left this world. Peter, as we know from many serial killers psychological make-up, have control issues in extremis – when everything around them crumbles, their psychopathic nature kicks in to, again, claw back some sort of control of their lives. And Louise, too, has control issues. We met her boyfriend, David (played by familiar face Johannes Lassen, who we’ve seen in the UK in Gidseltagningen), but no sooner had he arrived on the scene he and Louise had more or less broken up – she just couldn’t commit to him, because of the fear of losing control.
So BTWK is turning out to be a fascinating study of people and what they do to remain in control, and I’m appreciating and enjoying these deeper levels of characterisation and examination.
As for the whether it’s a good crime drama, I think it is, too.
I always wonder when a perpetrator is revealed so early whether a drama can sustain the cat-and-mouse chase element. So far so good, for BTWK. (The kid is going to play a big part in Peter’s downfall and that new iPhone might be key, too. That’s my guess.)
READ MORE: OUR EPISODES ONE AND TWO REVIEW
Blinded: Those Who Kill is on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer in its entirety in the UK